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Text Us Your Pandemic Work Story For Our Series The Next Normal

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KCUR

We want to start a conversation about the impact of coronavirus on work in our region – via TEXT.

Through a tool called Groundsource, we’re seeking people interested in sharing first-hand stories about their unemployment situation.

It’s a tool for our times. In the past we’ve gone out to churches, libraries and community centers to hold face to face conversations to engage different communities. That’s not really an option today.

So here is how Groundsource works: if you’re interested, text the word WORK to 816-601-4777.

Then you’ll see something like this:

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KCUR

It will offer you the opportunity to answer a few short questions (promise, it won’t take more than five minutes.) What we hear back will guide us in the next steps of our reporting.

(Of course, if this isn’t your bag, you can opt out simply by texting STOP.)

Your story may become a radio feature or digital post on our website. It may resonate with the stories of others and warrant a virtual town hall or Facebook Live. We might ask you to work with us on an audio diary. Who knows, hopefully, down the road, we'll be able to gather in person for a face-to-face conversation!

This pandemic will continue to change the lives of workers and workplaces across our region, in ways we are still waiting to find out. We plan to document the voices and stories of you who are living those experiences first hand.

Why stories about work?

The Kansas City Metro – like cities nationwide – has seen dramatic spikes in unemployment due to the economic impact of COVID-19.

Hotels, restaurants and entertainment venues suffered the largest losses- declining by more than 47,000 jobs since May 2019 - more than a 41 percent drop. That’s higher than job losses nationally in the same sector.

There have been countless unpaid furloughs and layoffs. People have waited hours, even days, to simply apply for unemployment benefits.

Others are facing questions about how to feed their families for the first time. Harvesters Community Food Network reports that food insecurity in Kansas and Missouri has jumped from 12 to 17 percent during the pandemic.

The United Way reports the majority of calls to their 2-1-1 help line in July were for rental assistance and there was an almost 50% increase in those at risk of homelessness between February and late June.

The bureaucracy for receiving benefits and relief is byzantine. Eligibility requirements are tough to navigate. Some programs are ending this month.

Upping our engagement game

The goal of our community engagement here at KCUR is to reach new audiences, to get at stories we wouldn’t know about unless we hear them from you.

This new texting tool just gives us another opportunity to reach out in these challenging times.

We’ll be using this tool more in the run up to the November elections. Stay tuned for that.

Meanwhile, please feel free to reach out to me via twitter @laurazig or by email lauraz@kcur.org with your ideas for how we can do a better a job engaging with you on these important stories. Our hope it to make it as easy and accessible as possible.

KCUR serves the Kansas City region with essential news and information.
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